Local government members vote for action
(23/06/08) UNISON members in local government in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted by 55% to 45% for a programme of sustained strike action over a 2.45% pay offer.
The union’s negotiating team, the National Joint Council committee, will now meet tomorrow to decide what action to recommend to the union's industrial action committee that meets on Friday 27 June.
Commenting on the ballot result, general secretary Dave Prentis said: "This is a solid vote for action and a clear message to the local government employers that our members are willing to fight for a decent pay rise.
"They are fed up and angry that they are expected to accept pay cut after pay cut, while bread and butter prices go through the roof.
"Most of them are low paid workers, who are hit hardest by food and fuel price hikes and they see the unfairness of boardroom bonanzas and big city bonuses
"Other local government workers who have to use their cars for work are being hit hard too by spiralling fuel costs and they end up subsidising their employers."
UNISON head of local government Heather Wakefield added: "The employers should be in no doubt: the members have voted for a programme of sustained and escalating strike action because they are sick of being treated as the poor relations of the public sector.
"Their case for a realistic pay increase is indisputable. We are, of course, willing to meet with the employers at any time, but we will decide tomorrow what recommendations to make to our national strike committee."
Nearly 600,000 UNISON members were balloted on industrial action; including social workers, housing benefit workers, rent collectors refuse workers, school meals staff, teaching assistants, cooks, cleaners, architects and surveyors.
Almost 250,000 of those balloted earn less than £6.50 an hour and 75% of them are women.
The joint unions' pay claim was for 6% or 50p an hour whichever was the greater.
In Scotland, the union will ballot more than 100,000 UNISON members in July for industrial action, after they rejected a three-year offer worth 2.5% per year.
UNISON also announced a lobby of the Scottish employers' organisation, CoSLA, on Wednesday 25 June.
"Despite public statements from CoSLA that they are still in negotiation, the employers have recently cancelled a negotiating meeting scheduled for Wednesday," noted UNISON Scotgland regional organiser Dougie Black.
"We have decided that our negotiators, and a representative number of our low paid members, will keep the appointment nevertheless to make the point to CoSLA that their offer is unacceptable.
"They will be carrying the princely sum of 46p – the total that our lowest paid members can expect their hourly rate to increase if they accepted the employers' offer."
UNISON's Pay Matters campaign Local government pages
Local government in Scotland